, FRANKFURT, Jan 24 – A German court Thursday jailed for seven years a man who joined Islamist militants in Pakistan and Somalia and once phoned in a terror threat against the parliament in Berlin.
The Turkish-born German, Emrah Erdogan, 25, had claimed in the phone call to federal police that Al-Qaeda militants would stage a bloodbath and hostage siege in the German Bundestag.
The Frankfurt regional court found the married father-of-two guilty of “membership in two foreign terrorist organisations” — Al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s Waziristan region and their Shebab allies in Somalia.
The court heard that the man, who has a criminal record, had first headed to Waziristan in April 2010 to join jihadist fighters and help them by raising money and finding recruits.
Erdogan convinced his brother Bunyamin to join him four months later. The 20-year-old volunteered for a suicide mission but was killed in a drone strike on an Al-Qaeda meeting, the court said.
In November 2010, Erdogan phoned in the Al-Qaeda threat of twin attacks in Pakistan and Germany, which sparked a nationwide German security alert for public buildings, train stations and airports.
He flew on to Somalia in February 2011, where he joined the Shebab, also to win recruits. He stayed for over a year, then left for Tanzania, where he was arrested in June 2012 and deported to Germany.
The court said in a statement that Erdogan had long been in the crosshairs of German authorities, which had intercepted his phone calls and emails.
Prosecutors had demanded nine years jail for Erdogan, telling the court he had joined combat in Waziristan and had also urged his younger brother to rob a supermarket to raise money for the jihadists.
The defence argued that Erdogan was merely a “big talker” who was fooled by Al-Qaeda and temporarily detained by the Shebab but liked to harass authorities with threats that were “bombastic and completely unrealistic”.